Image courtesy of William Bennett Berry.
The NBA Season is at its halfway point, and that means it’s time to bust out the mid-term report cards. In other words, it’s the one you didn’t want your parents to see. Report cards posts on their own aren’t very fun, so I spiced things up by comparing every player’s performance to one of my favorite (or least favorite) video games. And if some of you are non-gamers, don’t despair! This list is easily understandable if you can’t tell the difference between a Pac-Man and a pizza.
Also, keep in mind that the scale goes as so:
A- Far Exceeded Expectations
B- Exceeded Expectations
C- Met Expectations
D- Fell Short of Expectations
F- Fell Far Short of Expectations
In other words, if I ranked player X above player Y, it doesn’t necessarily mean that player X is better than player Y. It just means that player X played farther above his own expectations. Anyway, on to the rankings, which were done in order of points per game.
Kevin Durant: A+
Video Game Comparison: Pac-Man
Honestly, you can’t go wrong with Kevin Durant, and you can’t go wrong with Pac-Man. The innate appeal of Pac-Man is that it’s easy to pick up, and it never gets old. With something like Galaga, you might get tired of hammering the button. With something like Super Mario, you get to the end of the level, and the game is over. But with Pac-man, you can just keep playing to your heart’s content. It gets harder, but the game remains the same. Similarly, Durant always gets better, but his game has remained incredibly consistent and solid. He’s made tweaks here and there, but made sure to never mess with the classic formula. Mr.4th Quarter has bailed us out of more situations than I can count, and he almost never ceases to amaze.
Russell Westbrook: B
Video Game Comparison: Sonic
It’s always hard to put a finger on Westbrook. His game constantly changes, and you never really know what direction it’s going to take next. But one thing that doesn’t change is his fearlessness. I feel the same way about Sonic. Some of Sonic games are absolute gold, while others are absolute garbage. The creative direction in those game changes so much that it’s hard to really get a feeling of consistency anymore. The same goes for Westbrook. While the good definitely outweighs the bad, he’s still the enigma of a player he always was. Still, it’s hard not to think of Sonic when you think of Westbrook’s hard-headedness and reckless abandon.
Kevin Martin: A-
Video Game Comparison: Mortal Kombat
Unless he’s supporting the bench for three consecutive championship runs, Kevin Martin will probably go down as one of the most controversial figures in Thunder history. Sure, he can score and get to the line like Harden could. But he can’t pass or even defend like Harden could, and his career certainly won’t be as long. Will the Thunder ever reach the potential they could’ve had? Like K-Mart, Mortal Kombat was a huge source of controversy back in the mid-90s because of its’ violent nature. That controversy sparked the ratings system video games have today, very similar to the one that evaluates movies.
Serge Ibaka: A+
Video Game Comparison: Grand Theft Auto
The Serge Protector came to OKC as an athletic big man who was mostly famous for his dunks. Over time, he became an excellent pick and roll scorer, post help defender, and screen setter. But this season, he’s emerged as something more: An incredibly effective scorer. If he keeps improving at this rate, he might have the shooting proficiency of Daequan Cook. Similarly, Grand Theft Auto is a series that always seems to improve exponentially with each new release. The capacity of the game is upped, the story is made to be more compelling, and there’s always new things to mess with. Also, the in-your-face aspect of the series really fits in with the power of Ibaka’s blocks.
Thabo Sefolosha: A-
Video Game Comparison: Tetris
Thabo Sefolosha has had another fantastic season. You’d think that one of the Thunder’s older players would have trouble improving his game, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. A man who was once totally ignored in the corner is now almost a staple of the Thunder offense, providing the best three-point shooting percentage of his career. His offense has become more dynamic too, with his confidence to the point that he’ll take a few shots in the face of defenders. The only thing that keeps him from an A- is his defensive play. I feel like he gambles for steals too much and leaves his man open. But his defense is still pretty good, which is why I compared him to Tetris. In Tetris, YOU WILL LOSE. On defense, the same thing happens. But even though Thabo is preparing for the inevitable, he chugs away at putting the pieces down, hoping that he can assemble a line.
Nick Collison: B-
Video Game Comparison: Any Sports Game
Nick Collison hasn’t really changed much over the years. If you take a look at his original draft stock, you might brand him a bit of a disappointment. But mased on what we’ve seen out of him so far, this year has been par for the course, if not a bit better. He’s a bit more aggressive offensively, if anything. I compared him to a Sports Game, because that’s what they all are. Marginal improvements on last year’s game, with a roster update.
Kendrick Perkins: C
Video Game Comparison: Halo
Like Collison, Perk is a rock. He’s gone down in a few statistical categories, but his post defense has been critical in a few wins, notably the one over the Blazers. I can’t say he’s doing better than I thought he would, but I can’t say he’s doing worse, either. One thing’s for sure: He’s not apologetic about it. Like Perk, the Halo series doesn’t front about what it is. Hardly anything has changed from the first game to the most recent, but it always delivers the same, solid product. And that’s just another way to shoot lazers at other people on the internet.
Reggie Jackson: B+
Video Game Comparison: RBI Baseball
One of this year’s biggest surprises has been Reggie Jackson, who surpassed Eric Maynor for the team’s backup point guard spot. Aside from being more defensively solid, he’s been able to provide occasional scoring power for the bench. He’s not gangbusters by any means, but he’s athletic enough to be a factor in some games, and he’s definitely somebody I could see the Thunder winning a championship with. I say he’s similar to RBI Baseball because Reggie Jackson always makes me think of baseball, and RBI Baseball is possibly the only baseball game ever to feature Jim Traber.
Eric Maynor: D-
Video Game Comparison: SimMars
If this isn’t rock bottom, I don’t know what is. After injuring his ACL, Eric Maynor just hasn’t been the same. He shoots horrible percentages, can’t get the offense off the ground, and commits more turnovers than usual. He’s so far in the doghouse that he doesn’t even play in blowouts anymore. Watch out, because a trade is imminent. I put SimMars here mostly because I’m ticked that it never got made, like Eric Maynor never got a chance. I wanted to simulate Mars, darn it!
Hasheem Thabeet: C-
Video Game Comparison: Dark Castle
I know people constantly like to talk about how Thabeet is going through a “revival” in Oklahoma City. But aside from a select few performances, he’s really not. He’s too clumsy to help defense, he’s too skinny to post defend, he doesn’t grab rebounds, his offense doesn’t extend beyond 1 foot away from the basket, his stats haven’t improved since his rookie year….really, I could go on. But Hasheem Thabeet is the living embodiment of the main character of Dark Castle. It’s an obscure game for the Sega Genesis where you play the most uncoordinated fellow you could ever imagine, and die by getting touched by things like bats. Just give it a look on YouTube, you won’t be sorry.
Daniel Orton: N/A
Perry Jones III: D
Video Game Comparison: Duke Nukem Forever
Perry Jones III came into the year with a huge amount of promise and was fantastic in the Pre-Season, but hasn’t really proven himself in a regular season game so far. Sure, he’s had a couple of decent performances in limited minutes, but he’s usually the forgotten man out there on the floor. But I’d still like to see more of what he can do. Duke Nukem Forever is a game that spent 10 years in development. 10 years. Let’s hope it doesn’t take Perry Jones that long.
Jeremy Lamb: Incomplete
We just haven’t seen the guy play enough to make a judgement. Some of what we’ve seen looks promising, but I don’t know whether his three-point shooting and long arms are good enough yet.
DeAndre Liggins: A-
Video Game Comparison: Final Fantasy
Going from being a training camp invitee to a near-rotation player is no small feat, and DeAndre Liggins got there with a lot of hustle. He provides such a good amount of quickness and focused play that he’s a good extra defender to stick on a team that’s having just a bit too much success from the three-point line. Like Liggins, Final Fantasy was a game made by a company on its’ last legs. Thus called: Final Fantasy. Somehow, the game sold so well that it was able to spawn a series of something like 30 sequels. I’ve never really played any of them, but I hear they’re popular among people who like sitting in front of their TV for too long.
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